Monday, October 04, 2021

Betting Odds - Nobel Prize in Literature countdown

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They've announced the latest class of 25 MacArthur Fellows, who now receive: "a stipend of $625,000 [...] paid out in equal quarterly installments over five years", no strings attached. 

Nobel Prize in Literature countdown 

       They're announcing who will be awarded this year's Nobel Prize in Literature soon -- next Thursday, on 7 October (at 13:00 CEST; you can watch live at the Nobel site). 
       (The Nobel folk are still keeping the prize-announcing Swedish Academy on a shorter leash, hence also the already fixed announcement date; in the good old days the Academy reserved the right to announce it on some Thursday in October and would only announce/confirm that they were going to reveal the name on the Monday of that week, i.e. we wouldn't know that they were announcing it next week until ... next week. (They would have let us know on the 4th.)) 
       It seems likely that they have already settled on a name; I have no sense or feel for who they might have chosen. 

       A few betting shops have set odds on the prize, but it doesn't look like there has been much betting yet; At Ladbrokes six authors share the spot of 'favorite', at 10/1 odds: Margaret Atwood, Anne Carson, Maryse Condé, Murakami HarukiNgũgĩ wa Thiong'o, and Lyudmila Ulitskaya. (The fact that they spell Margaret Atwood's name wrong is, of course, not a great sign .....) With a North American poet having won last year, Carson seems particularly unlikely, but I suppose it's a reasonable sextet of plausible candidates. 
       Jon Fosse is somewhat surprisingly far down their list -- though still at decent 25/1 odds -- but that's the same as they rate Ko Un ..... 
       At Nicer Odds you can compare all the odds currently on offer -- though there aren't many odds-discrepancies among the different shops, yet. 

       The one place where there has been a lot of Nobel Prize speculation on the internet is at the World Literature Forum's Nobel Prize in Literature 2021 Speculation thread, with already close to 1750 posts, last I checked. (Last year's speculation thread topped out at 1551 posts.) I haven't been following this one this year, but it certainly seems to be the place to go for speculation. 
       There isn't much elsewhere, with, for example, The Mookse and the Gripes discussion at Goodreads on the 2021 Nobel Prize up to all of ... 22 posts, last I checked. 

       The Autumn, 2021 issue of World Literature Today is now available -- and it's the 'All-Translation Issue'. 
       As always, lots of great material -- including the extensive book review section. 

       Earthly Powers review 

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Anthony Burgess' 1980, Booker Prize-shortlistednovel, Earthly Powers

       Fairly late in the novel, Burgess' novelist-narrator, Toomey, recounts:
I went to my study and, sighing, numbered a new sheet of foolscap (140), recalled some of my characters from their brief sleep and set them talking. They started talking, to my surprise, about the novel which contained them, rather like one of those cartoon films in which anthropomorphic animals get out of the frame and start abusing their creator. 
     'A novelist friend of mine,' Diana Cartwright said, 'affirmed that a satisfactory novel should be a selfevident sham to which the reader could regulate at will the degree of his credulity.'
       It (only) takes a page before Toomey takes action:
I went back to my novel, crumpled the sheet I had started, and forced the characters back into total servitude to my will. Slaves, sort of, with only the illusion of freedom. Like all of us. The novel form was no sham.
       As is, it's a nice little side-step, and makes his point -- but part of me wishes he'd left the characters unleashed and let them continue down that path ..... 
       (The excellent sentence Cartwright quotes is, verbatim, out of Flann O'Brien's At Swim-Two-Birds; in the same passage O'Brien wrote: "The modern novel should be largely a work of reference", advice Burgess nicely took here.) 

       Meanwhile, much as I enjoy adding to my favorite review-index -- that of Real People in Works of Fiction -- I do find myself wishing more and more to find fewer and fewer real people and events worked over in works of fiction .....